Tofino Wildlife Vol. 2

Over the coming weeks West Coast Aquatic Safaris will present a compilation of information on the wildlife of the Pacific Rim as well as some of the flora and fauna. As a continuation to yesterdays post on Black Bears we offer…

What to do if you see a bear

If an attack occurs with a black bear, do NOT play dead.  They are scavengers, and will eat dead animals.  Fight back, using whatever you can find as a weapon (rocks, sticks, yourself). Individuals are encouraged to make themselves appear larger by raising their arms and standing together in a group if traveling with others. While you should never turn and run as you may appear like prey, it is advisable to back away slowly.

Human Interaction/Habituation

Are They Protected Here?

Here the Black Bear is not under protection. American Black Bears are the only non-threatened species of bear, with 900,000 in Canada, US, and Mexico.

Bear Myths: The following is a list of common myths that we would like to clarify

A bear standing on hind legs means that they’re about to charge. The bear is probably just trying to get a better view at something they’ve noticed.

Climbing  a tree to escape is a good way to escape. Especially with black bears, they’re more at home in trees than on

land and they would certainly have the advantage.  Grizzlies aren’t as good at climbing due to they long claws, but

they are also capable of climbing so in general it is a good idea to avoid the trees

Don’t get between a mother and her cubs. Black bear mothers will usually tree (send the cubs up a tree for safety) their cubs and run away however with grizzlies, even being close to cubs is dangerous, mothers are extremely protective.  Show her you are not a threat.

Bear bells are effective. The sound of bells has no biological significance to bears; they don’t associate it with humans.  It is much better to talk loudly, sing, or break sticks as you hike. Small hand held air horns work very well for letting bears know you are in the area before accidentally surprising them and creating an encounter.

Guns are more effective than pepper spray. In an attack, shooting a bear tends to prolong and intensify the attack. Bear spray is a very valuable tool in the wilderness but please read the labels and directions for use carefully to avoid any mishap. They also do expire!

Relocation is an effective means of bear control. Unless you remove the attractant, the bear will likely return, or another bear will move into the territory.

Bears can’t run downhill. Bears are very fast runners on any surface, and can move up to 60km/h (37mph) Most of us humans are lucky if we can accomplish 6-10km/hour so again the odds are in favor of the Black Bear

If entering into a wilderness setting or any area that is unfamiliar to you it is always highly advisable to do your research, find out the highlights and the hazards and look into the ways to make the most of your experience.

Over the next couple of days we will take a look at some of the Tofino History and stats on the area before we take a closer look at the 3 species of whales common to the Pacific Rim

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